One of the biggest challenges facing the Christian Church today is the ever-increasing number of children growing up without the loving care of their parents and without knowing their Heavenly Father. Their plight can be called the Orphan Challenge. These children live throughout the world – from war torn Sudan to poverty-stricken India, from transitioning Ukraine to affluent nations in
Europe and North America. If we brought all these children together – totaling 153 million, according to current estimates from UNICEF – they would comprise the 7th largest nation in the world . a veritable “Orphan Nation.” If all the orphans stood together, shoulder to shoulder, they would reach more than twice around the planet.
God knows all orphaned children by name, and He has a purpose for each of them. He is the Father of the fatherless, and His dream is that the Orphan Nation will disappear from the face of the earth. This can happen only when each child has a permanent, “forever” family. “Father of the fatherless is God in his Holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68.5-6).
The World Without Orphans (WWO) movement was born from the understanding of God’s heart for orphans and His mission for the Church to care for them. We are launching a worldwide effort to ensure that every child can grow and flourish in a safe and loving permanent family. We believe the Body of Christ can help make this vision a reality. Although 153 million children may seem like
a staggering number, there are 2.1 billion Christians in the world today. If all would come together in their churches, with their families, and as individuals, we could address the orphan challenge and bring closure to this escalating crisis.
Who Are The Orphans?
There is no easy answer to the seemingly simple question of “Who is an orphan?” However, the way we define these children has very important implications for our capacity to help them.
Historically, orphans were children who had lost both of their parents, usually through death. UNICEF has expanded this definition to include children who have lost one of their parents. The Bible seems to use the words “orphan” and “fatherless” interchangeably which supports a broader definition. Consider also James 1:27 that ties together caring for orphans and widows, single mothers. Contemporary child welfare practice focuses also on children who have lost their families through abandonment, even though one or both of their parents may still be alive. Therefore, in a broader sense an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents or has been abandoned by or separated from them.
Some children, born with disabilities, become orphans because their families and communities lack the skills and resources to meet their special developmental needs. Still other children may be removed from their families to ensure their safety, protecting them from child abuse, neglect, and other forms of child endangerment. Many orphans grow to adulthood without permanent family
connections, and they often “graduate” to the streets, homeless and jobless, being drawn into lives of crime to support themselves. The most vulnerable may be trafficked into various forms of indentured servitude in other nations. Orphan children may be considered “at-risk” in the most fundamental sense. Without the nurturance, support, and consistency of a permanent loving family
in a stable, supportive community, orphaned children haven’t got a chance.
Click here to read more about "Orphan Challenge", including the vision, mission and goals of the World Without Orphans.